How to avoid a publicity stunt disaster

September 22, 2017

Recently, two Victoria BC groups tried to garner publicity with stunts - and failed miserably. The first, Fresh Coast Eatery, took to Instagram with a photo that was derided as fat shaming, in order to promote its healthy cuisine. The second, a stunt promoting a local comedy show, subjected white males to ticket prices double those of non-white males and females - allegedly to put the spotlight on white male privilege. 

What might they have done differently? I got on the air with CFAX's Mark Brennae to discuss the do's and don't's of publicity stunts. 


The eclipse, superstition, and marketing.

August 28, 2017

On August 21st, the world witnessed a stunning solar eclipse. Also on August 21st, I was scheduled to chat marketing on the air with CFAX's Mark Brennae. It only seemed natural to connect the two.

But what exactly is the connection between eclipses and marketing? Turns out, there are more than you might imagine. 

We humans crave stability and control over our environments. In ancient times, eclipses (along with earthquakes and other natural disasters) robbed us of that control. We turned to our gods to make it all right again.

Today, not much has changed. But instead of gods, we worship at the temple of consumption. Not surprisingly, many savvy marketers (our new high priests) have given us tools they say will help us control our increasingly chaotic world. 



Want to build a more powerful brand? Just ask.

July 27, 2017

I'm a firm believer in the power of USP's, or Unique Selling Propositions. USP's are, simply put, the intersection of what you think your brand does best, and what consumers believe it does best. 

But how do you ask consumers what they see in your brand? And more important, how do you ask them if your brand's special sauce appeals to them? 

In this episode, I dig into some of the tried and true methods I use to get the great insights. 

I also bring aboard Neil Belenkie for additional perspective. Neil's business is helping companies position themselves for sale, or investment. In essence, he helps them discover their USP, and leverage that for great business results. Check out our conversation to get some inspiration for your own USP explorations!


The implosion of media. Who saw it coming?

May 15, 2017

Ian Gill is the author of No News Is Bad News, an experienced journalist, and catalyst for boundary-breaking media.  

According to Gill, legacy media have completely missed the boat when it comes to public discourse. Instead of dwelling on new technology and hedge-fund backed expansion as a panacea, Gill believes we need to rethink the role of storytelling, engagement, and crafting 'public service journalism' as the antidote to clickbait and fake news. 

Check out our lively conversation on issues that are more important than ever in our post-Trumpian reality. 


Why Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner ad failed

April 10, 2017

Pepsi recently pulled an ad featuring Kendall Jenner that took a superficial, flaky view of a very sensitive topic: protests for social justice. 

The ad created an incredible firestorm on social media, and prompted ad pundits to wonder what the soda company had been drinking when they approved the spot.

I went on the air with Mark Brennae of CFAX radio to chat about what Pepsi had done wrong. And more importantly, what the rest of us can do to avoid making the same mistake. It was a lively conversation!


Brexit, Trump and the downside of complexity

April 6, 2017

We are living in a time where expertise and nuance are frowned upon. Britain voted with a simple Yes / No referendum to abandon membership in the EU, a partnership that had a multidimensional, complex impact on the lives of ordinary citizens - an impact that is just now coming to light. 

By the same token, Donald Trump has demonstrated his willingness to show experts the door, bringing in inexperienced 'fresh' talent. The effect, if you look at his government's legislative record, has been dismal. 

How did we get here? Why are we suddenly allergic to complexity? And how can tools like communications help us embrace nuance? Ben Cattaneo, a Canadian risk expert living in London, joins me on the show for a lively conversation on the subject. 


Tim Horton’s: a cautionary tale of bean counters and brands.

March 29, 2017

A recent Globe and Mail story described the 'brutal' transformation of beloved Canadian restaurant brand Tim Horton's. The cause of the messy shift? Budget cuts by Tim's new owners - Brazilian holding company 3G Capital and Restaurant Brands International (RBI).

I was invited by Mark Brennae of CFAX radio to chat about this disruption. It was a lively conversation!


Tools for an uncertain age: in conversation with Todd Sivers

February 7, 2017

Todd Sivers is an experienced personal coach with a unique system for helping people unlock their potential. To him, the tension we're seeing between our regressive politics and our unprecedented technological leaps is simply part of a global growing pains.

In this conversation, we chat about everything from the oversaturation of self-help, our insatiable desire to think change without creating change, and our vast untapped human potential. An entertaining chat, with an abundance of learnings for anyone wondering how we as humans are going to, well, deal with it all.


Trump the candidate, Trump the president, and the brand gap.

January 30, 2017

There's no arguing Donald Trump the candidate had a distinct brand. But now that he's president, that brand needs to shift. Can he cross the gap?

CFAX 1070's Mark Brennae invited me to talk about which elements of the Trump brand should remain consistent, which need to be retooled, and what will happen if he can't make the transition.


McDonald’s peanut scandal: is this a Didn’t See It Coming moment?

January 20, 2017

Today, we woke up with the news that McDonald's had decided to launch a new McFlurry with loose nuts - instead of the standard pre-packaged nuts. In a heartbeat, social media lit up as parents of children with peanut allergies decried the move as traitorous.

Was this a Didn't See It Coming moment? Did McDonald's know what it was doing? Why did the food giant turn its back on so many of its core consumers?

CFAX 1070 Radio asked me to weigh in on the move. Here's the interview.